Where: Kensington Metropark, Possum Hollow
The readers, the followers voted this storied venue as a top-2 course in Michigan and I agree. Idyllic setting on the waters of Kent Lake. The first mile has a bit of a rise and dip, the second mile is flat, and the third mile is where all hell breaks loose. You’ve got a hill, wait TWO hills, back to back, then a thrilling downhill finish. Such an iconic last mile that someone made a Strava segment to document it all (oh wait, that’s me – but don’t let this affect your race).
Three main races were held here during championship season, Oakland County (-39), LVC (-33), Catholic League (-26). Oakland County was on a soggy day and that stretch down by the water is especially mushy, LVC after school, so Catholic League is the best point of comparison. Like Hess Hathaway, this should be a slower course compared to the rest of the state.
2021 Boys: Highland-Milford (12th), White Lake Lakeland (3rd), Walled Lake Northern (21st)
2021 Girls: Walled Lake Northern (18th), Highland-Milford (21st), Grand Blanc (16th)
Last year’s race had it all: Lakeland, high off a LVC victory, on their path to a top-3 finish at MIS. Milford, with their usual pattern of laying low and bringing it on strong towards the end, Walled Lake Northern looking to prove me wrong, Farmington devising strategy in Auer-like fashion. In the end, Sal’s Magic came through for Milford, helped by Tyler Ristau, who placed a whole 20 places above his seeding. Thanks to Tyler’s great effort, Hansons Running Shop gained some more memorabilia:
Walled Lake Northern came in with a chip on their shoulder, projected to be one measly point away from advancing. The Knights more than took care of business, William Thomas coming back to race, the senior leading his band to the promised land. Lakeland didn’t have their best day, but that can’t always happen. The great thing about late October is that if you have a good race, you get to keep the train rollin’ one week later. A poor race, a quick turnaround to get the bad taste out of your mouth. Those Eagles more than responded, crashing the party with a 3rd place finish in Brooklyn.
What’s gonna happen this year? Look forward two months and all I see is more drama. Five boys teams within 11 points of one another, all competing for two spots. Three girls teams in the running for one. Teams to watch for might by UD Jesuit’s boys and Walled Lake Western’s girls. Alisia Olteanu is criminally underrated by these rankings, her ratings were greatly affected by 21+’s early, she was in the low-19’s late. I expect the main boys conglomeration to be between 17:20 and 18:20, Jesuit could have 4-5 boys in that range. In a tightly bound race, four boys passing a rival team can mean volumes.
Top 25 Boys Teams: Detroit Catholic Central (10th), Highland-Milford (24th), White Lake Lakeland (23rd), Detroit Jesuit (21st)
Top 25 Girls Teams: Walled Lake Northern (16th), Highland-Milford (17th)
Here, I’m writing at least a little anecdote about kids that are in the top-15 but aren’t freshman (Kyle), in the 50 Tickets (Nicholas, Ty, Kylee – congrats on the national title, Eddie, Jared, and Griffin), or on Top 10 teams (Catholic Central). Want to spread love but also not overwork myself. All in all, my estimation is through all these previews, I’ll be writing at least a sentence about 1000+ kids. If there’s an error in here, let me know.
Logan Mullan, UD Jesuit: Jesuit is known for their sprints and relays, but over on 7 Mile, Logan is working his hardest to alter that reputation just a little. At Larry Steeb, ran a 4:25 to close his individual season, then gained valuable state meet experience with his 4×8 brothers the following Saturday.
Matthew Short, Berkley: Began to transform late in his junior year, breaking 17:00 for the first time. But the first show of his talent and training was a 15:48 at the SVSU Distance Fest. A similar distance, a bit different surface, all in all one of the better indicators of one of the better, unheralded runners we’ll see.
Nathan Riddering, Novi: Major reason for his inclusion was track, where his 9:47 in the Oakland County 3200m placed him 8th.
Lucas Karbel, Walled Lake Northern: Along with Ty Parker, was part of a Knight 3200 relay squad that took home an Oakland County crown and nearly slipped into the 7’s. This guy has range too, he’s been below 10:00 for that 3200m in both 2021 and 2022.
Gavin Steele, Farmington: A mid-distance darkhorse within the ranks. Gavin had the race of his life at Farmington’s track regional, a three second personal best that qualified him for State.
Sebastian Cervelli, West Bloomfield: Zero 800s for a month was no problem for Sebastian, his 1:57 at Oakland County was only a 3+ second personal best.
Pierce Grzymkowski, White Lake Lakeland: Just a few months ago, lit up the 400m distance with a string of 51-52 second performances.
Genavieve Kushner-Lopez, Walled Lake Western: There’s a reason I was hoping to snag her in the later rounds of the Meet of Champions draft. Western ran a series of tough courses (Holly, Hess, Possum Hollow), and Genavieve kept getting better, each time out. At Shepherd, she struck down her previous PB, racing to a 18:54.
Grace Harkenrider, Highland-Milford: Another one that could work their way onto that MIS podium. 2:20/5:07 this past spring, finished 21st in the D1 State 1600m.
Jacie Remtema, Highland-Milford: Quantum leap obtained at the State Finals was backed up by a similar time the next week. Her 19:19 at MIS was a 30+ second personal best.
Molly Baracco, Farmington: Fairly recognizable last name, but she ain’t gonna rest on those laurels. 19:30 at the State Finals in cross. She didn’t quite get there as an individual in track, but with three other teammates, ran on both the 4×4 and 4×8. You run there once and can’t wait to get back, I know that’s a real possibility come spring of ’23.
Mia McDonald, White Lake Lakeland: Ten seconds out of a qualifying spot as a sophomore. One year later, her 12th place finish left no doubt.
Madelyn Gordon, Walled Lake Northern: I think she closes her season as hard as she closes her 400s. Third in Oakland County on the track, 60.1 as her personal best. Two consecutive cross seasons that she smashed the 20 min. mark towards the end of the fall.
Alisia Olteanu, Walled Lake Western: As said earlier, completely underrated by the math. Luckily, math is thrown out the window on all these races. Sub-5 on the track, 2nd place finishes in the 1600m at Regionals, Counties, and the LVC.
Anjali Kidambi, Novi: Anjali battled the mudpits and generally nasty conditions on the North Course at Hudson Mills, gaining another week to her debut cross season.
Elaine Burkmyre, Walled Lake Western: Unfortunately, was not able to showcase her talents here last October. If she did, I know she would shine, as she had been 22nd at Oakland County and hit a personal best a week earlier.
Emily Wade, Walled Lake Central: Another one of those girls who just races well with everything on the line. As a freshman, snatched a personal best at State, found her first sub-20 of the year at last year’s version.
Faylinn Wong, Farmington: Cross season didn’t end with a trip to Brooklyn as her freshman year. Faylinn hit the reset button and gave us another solid track season, ending with a 2nd place spot at the Oakland County 3200m.
Isabelle Krause, Walled Lake Northern: Such steadiness at such a young age. Other than a few great outliers (sub-20 at both WLN and MIS), she was between 20:10 and 20:45 all year.
Mia Czarnowski, Walled Lake Northern: In both of her seasons, she’s finished all-Oakland County and has been sub-20.